Monday, October 10, 2005

Wells fail IG's inspection

ROGER SNODGRASS, roger@lamonitor.com, Monitor Assistant Editor

Responding to technical information from a Los Alamos geologist, a federal auditor found that drilling techniques for deep-test wells at Los Alamos National Laboratory might have distorted some of the results of a water monitoring project.

An inspection report released on Friday by the Inspector General of the Department of Energy concluded that LANL's methods may have been allowable under the guidelines, but did not meet the requirements of the applicable environmental law.

Additives used in the drilling procedure may have masked the presence of radioactive contaminants and "compromised the reliability of the groundwater contamination data," according to the report.

Bob Gilkeson, an expert in drilling methods for monitoring low-level contaminants, said Friday that he took the matter to the Inspector General because he believes that the laboratory, with the encouragement of the New Mexico Environment Department, has installed many wells that do not provide accurate information.

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